Sharks

How NHL's potential new labor deal could affect Sharks’ offseason plan

How NHL's potential new labor deal could affect Sharks’ offseason plan

The Sharks could be operating under a new NHL collective bargaining agreement soon, and it might have quite an impact on the franchise's future.

The NHL and the NHL Players Association are nearing an agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding for a new six-year labor deal that includes guidelines for the return of the 2019-20 season, TSN's Frank Seravalli reported Saturday.

The MOU must be ratified by both sides before it becomes official, but the potential deal includes some notes that surely will affect the Sharks this offseason.

For starters, it appears the league's salary cap will be frozen at $81.5 million, and remain there until the NHL's hockey-related revenue gets back to $4.8 billion, which was the initial projection for this season before the coronavirus pandemic forced a suspension of operations on March 12.

[RELATED: NHL expansion draft: Who Sharks might be forced to leave unprotected]

San Jose ended the season with around $648,000 (per CapFriendly.com) in available space, and with contracts expiring for players such as Joe Thornton, Melker Karlsson and Aaron Dell, a frozen salary cap could make re-signing those the team wants to bring back difficult.

Seravalli also noted that minimum contracts will rise $50,000 for next season, increasing to $750,000. It will stay there for four years, before rising to $775,000 in 2024-25, and $800,000 in 2025-26. So, young Sharks players such as Dylan Gambrell and Stefan Noesen, who played on minimum contracts, now are in line for raises of at least $50,000 going into next season.

The Sharks will look to turn things around entering the first full season of this potential new CBA, as they just finished last in the Pacific Division with just 63 points. But it appears the new labor deal might complicate San Jose's plan in some aspects.

2020 NHL playoffs: Everything Sharks fans need to know when tuning in

2020 NHL playoffs: Everything Sharks fans need to know when tuning in

Watching the Stanley Cup playoffs this summer must be a strange experience for Sharks fans.

Sure, it's weird for every hockey fan watching games played in front of empty arenas in the middle of August during a global pandemic. But Sharks fans haven't spent much of the last few years as passive postseason observers, advancing to at least the Western Conference final in two of the four years preceding 2020.

There are plenty of intriguing storylines now that the playoff field has been whittled down to 16 teams. Which should Sharks fans pay attention to? Here's a guide to the postseason for San Jose supporters.

The Villains

Sharks fans' rooting interests in the playoffs can be best described as "Anyone but the Vegas Golden Knights." Not only did San Jose and Vegas square off in the last two postseasons, but the Golden Knights now are coached by former Sharks bench boss Peter DeBoer.

You'd have a difficult time convincing teal diehards to root for Chicago in the first round, considering how many times "Chelsea Dagger" played in the Original Six franchise's Western Conference final sweep of the Sharks a decade ago. But when the alternative is seeing the DeBoer-led Golden Knights march toward a Stanley Cup, Sharks fans have an easy choice.

The Familiar Faces

My colleague in content Brian Witt highlighted some of the biggest former Sharks still playing for a Stanley Cup. Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski -- that's still odd to type -- leads the list, but there are quite a few players who once donned teal who are playing for hockey's ultimate prize.

The Eastern Conference could lead to some difficult rooting choices for Sharks fans, though. It's likely that two of the Philadelphia Flyers (Justin Braun), Tampa Bay Lightning (Barclay Goodrow) and Washington Capitals (Brenden Dillon) will square off, and each player still is looking for their first ring.

[RELATED: How Sharks benefit from Rangers winning NHL draft lottery]

The Jokes

Somewhat surprisingly, the NHL really has leaned into the weirdness of this year's Stanley Cup playoffs being played in two buildings -- Edmonton's Rogers Place and Toronto's Scotiabank Arena -- for audiences watching from their couches. There has been a tribute to the "fans" in attendance, a ban on the wave and even multiple appearances from designated hat throwers when a player scores a hat trick.

The NHL had to postpone a playoff game because Game 1 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets at Scotiabank Arena went to five overtimes. Columbus' official account then tweeted this.

The Sharks had some fun with it, too. Collectively commiserating over the playoffs' fundamental strangeness is going to lead to a lot more over the next couple months, even if San Jose isn't a part of the postseason.

Sharks post hilarious tweet during Lightning-Blue Jackets five-OT game

Sharks post hilarious tweet during Lightning-Blue Jackets five-OT game

The Sharks aren't involved in the Stanley Cup playoffs. But like many hockey fans, they were excited to take in the opening games of four first-round series on Tuesday, all back-to-back starting at noon PT.

So much so that they cleared their calendar.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets played the second of those four games, in what many expected to be a heated matchup after the Blue Jackets memorably upset and swept the Lightning in the first round last year. What they didn't expect, however, was that game going to an incredible fifth overtime and lasting well into the night.

Lightning forward Brayden Point ultimately ended the marathon at the 10:27 mark of the fifth OT, making it the fourth-longest game in NHL playoff history. Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo stopped 85 of the first 87 shots he faced. He couldn't stop the 88th.

[RELATED: How Sharks benefit from Rangers winning NHL draft lottery]

Prior to the conclusion of the second game on Tuesday's slate, the league ultimately decided to move the fourth and final scheduled game between the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes to 8 a.m. PT on Wednesday morning.

So, thanks to the Lightning and Blue Jackets, the Sharks can watch a full game before Wednesday's boring weekly meeting.

Well, that is unless it goes to a fifth OT.